Interstate travel is (almost) back – hurray! Here are the things to keep in mind, plus a few must-know destinations, to help you get ready for fun family holidays to return.
How to prepare
Once upon a time, planning a holiday well in advance was the best approach. Now, with states still unsure where they will be COVID-wise in a month, it can be more practical to book your travel within a shorter timeframe.
Experts are already beginning to predict that COVID will change our traditional ‘travel seasons’, and the windows of travel opportunity will be days or weeks long, not months.
Wherever possible, book with travel providers who offer free cancellation, date changes and credits or refunds. Countless airlines, accommodation options and tour providers are offering discounts to entice travellers to their neck of the woods, so definitely take advantage of those – just make sure you read the T&Cs carefully before handing over your cash.
Oh, and when it comes to travel insurance, check whether your usual provider includes COVID-related claims. But if worse comes to worst and you can’t get back the money you spent on a now-cancelled trip, see your investment as a donation to the struggling travel industry.
Travelling this Christmas will come down to one thing: responsibility. Be responsible about your travel plans, ensuring you have taken every possible precaution to safeguard against the ever-changing rules and restrictions. Take responsibility for your safety and the safety of others when you travel by ensuring you have a mask, hand sanitiser and are following the guidelines in place in that location.
It’s a brave new world we are experiencing, but with a little bit of consideration, it’s nothing a seasoned traveller can’t handle.
Tips for COVID-safe travel
Just as you sometimes do in your own neighbourhood, when you travel around Australia – and soon, the world – you will often have to wear a mask, so it’s a good idea to keep a few spares close at hand. While many of us are well-versed in the general rules of mask wearing, it’s always a good idea to stay up to date on the etiquette. According to the Australian Government’s Department of Health, remember to always wash or sanitise your hands before putting it on or taking it off, ensure it covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly around your face, and do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose. It is also important to not reuse single-use masks – instead, opt for a sustainable, reusable version (just make sure you wash and dry them after use and store them in a clean, dry place).
Get vaccinated (if you can)
Many states and countries are feeling the effects of new strains and new waves of COVID outbreaks, so expect hypervigilance when you try to cross borders. In some places, entrance may be refused without proof of vaccination. While your holiday may be your number one priority, remember that for certain regions, avoiding the risk of another outbreak will always take precedence. This won’t necessarily be restricted to government authorities, either; it’s very likely that some airlines, tour groups and accommodation providers will turn away unvaccinated travellers. Beyond making it easier for you to travel, experts assert that higher vaccination rates make outbreaks less likely and reduce the need for preventative measures like border closures and travel restrictions – saving lives and livelihoods in the process.
The past few months have proven just how quickly things can change in this COVID climate. No matter where or when you travel, it is essential that you keep an eye on the restrictions in place not only where you’re visiting, but also back home. Staying up to date could spell the difference between making it back home and spending two weeks in isolation. If you are road tripping interstate this can prove a bit more challenging. Government resources include:
- The Coronavirus Australia app, which stays up to date with official information and advice
- The Australian Government WhatsApp channel, where you can learn the latest and send messages – message +61 400 253 787 through WhatsApp to join
- Your state’s COVID hotline
Where to go
- Lord Howe Island: A tiny island off the New South Wales coast that’s beloved by celebrities and tourists alike! Snorkel, hike and hand-feed fish in their World Heritage-listed natural surroundings – you’ll be one of just 400 visitors allowed on the island at a time (so book in quick!).
- Tasmania: Australia’s island state shot to the top of ‘Must Visit’ lists in lieu of international travel, and for good reason. With rich history, beautiful landscapes, delicious food and wine and adventure activities aplenty, your family won’t visit anywhere quite like it.
- Adelaide Hills: From greeting native animals in the Cleland Wildlife Park to picking strawberries, Adelaide Hills is brimming with family fun. Not only that, but they’re also seriously beautiful – oh, and for the grown ups, there are plenty of wineries to visit.
- Rottnest Island: One word: quokkas. Rottnest Island is home to the world’s largest quokka population, the small marsupials known as the ‘happiest animals on earth’. Beyond taking selfies with quokkas, you can also go boating, hiking, explore underwater playgrounds and more.
- The Daintree: It’s the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, standing proud in Far North Queensland for an estimated 180 million years. Once home to diprotodon and thunderbirds, the Daintree is a natural oasis just waiting to be explored – preferably by river cruise, followed by a delicious meal.